Van Halen

Van Halen

4.5 12
by Van Halen

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Any band that has the audacity to begin its debut album with the bass player plucking quarter notes on an open E-string had better deliver, and Van Halen do -- with a vengeance. Honing their craft on the club scene for years, Van Halen emerged in 1978 with an instant classic that featured the blistering guitar work of Eddie Van Halen, the madcap histrionics of…  See more details below


Any band that has the audacity to begin its debut album with the bass player plucking quarter notes on an open E-string had better deliver, and Van Halen do -- with a vengeance. Honing their craft on the club scene for years, Van Halen emerged in 1978 with an instant classic that featured the blistering guitar work of Eddie Van Halen, the madcap histrionics of frontman David Lee Roth, and the pounding, pulsating groove of bassist Michael Anthony and drummer Alex Van Halen. From the memorable introduction of the hard-rock classic "Runnin' with the Devil," Van Halen is a non-stop barrage of primal music, ranging from seminal rockers ("Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love," "I'm the One") and covers (the Kinks' "You Really Got Me") to blues revisions ("Ice Cream Man") and surprising poignancy ("Jamie's Crying," "Little Dreamer"). For all its pomp, the album had the musical distinction of introducing the world to the influential guitar work of Eddie Van Halen, who belongs in a lineage of guitarists that includes Charlie Christian, Chuck Berry, and Jimi Hendrix. What Van Halen are really all about, however, is fun, and it was their role as irreverent saviors of good time rock 'n' roll that made them such an integral part of the rock lexicon.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Among revolutionary rock albums, Van Halen's debut often gets short shrift. Although it altered perceptions of what the guitar could do, it is not spoken of in the same reverential tones as Are You Experienced? and although it set the template for how rock & roll sounded for the next decade or more, it isn't seen as an epochal generational shift, like Led Zeppelin, The Ramones, The Rolling Stones, or Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols, which was released just the year before. But make no mistake, Van Halen is as monumental, as seismic as those records, but part of the reason it's never given the same due is that there's no pretension, nothing self-conscious about it. In the best sense, it is an artless record, in the sense that it doesn't seem contrived, but it's also a great work of art because it's an effortless, guileless expression of what the band is all about, and what it would continue to be over the years. The band did get better, tighter, over the years -- peaking with their sleek masterpiece 1984, where there was no fat, nothing untidy -- but everything was in place here, from the robotic pulse of Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen, to the gonzo shtick of David Lee Roth to the astonishing guitar of Eddie Van Halen. There may have been antecedents to this sound -- perhaps you could trace Diamond Dave's shuck-n-jive to Black Oak Arkansas' Jim Dandy, the slippery blues-less riffs hearken back to Aerosmith -- but Van Halen, to this day, sounds utterly unprecedented, as if it was a dispatch from a distant star. Some of the history behind the record has become rock lore: Eddie may have slowed down Cream records to a crawl to learn how Clapton played "Crossroads" -- the very stuff legends are made of -- but it's hard to hear Clapton here. It's hard to hear anybody else really, even with the traces of their influences, or the cover of "You Really Got Me," which doesn't seem as if it were chosen because of any great love of the Kinks, but rather because that riff got the crowd going. And that's true of all 11 songs here: they're songs designed to get a rise out of the audience, designed to get them to have a good time, and the album still crackles with energy because of it. Sheer visceral force is one thing, but originality is another, and the still-amazing thing about Van Halen is how it sounds like it has no fathers. Plenty other bands followed this template in the '80s, but like all great originals Van Halen doesn't seem to belong to the past and it still sounds like little else, despite generations of copycats. Listen to how "Runnin' with the Devil" opens the record with its mammoth, confident riff and realize that there was no other band that sounded this way -- maybe Montrose or Kiss were this far removed from the blues, but they didn't have the down-and-dirty hedonistic vibe that Van Halen did; Aerosmith certainly had that, but they were fueled by blooze and boogie, concepts that seem alien here. Everything about Van Halen is oversized: the rhythms are primal, often simple, but that gives Dave and Eddie room to run wild, and they do. They are larger than life, whether it's Dave strutting, slyly spinning dirty jokes and come-ons, or Eddie throwing out mind-melting guitar riffs with a smile. And of course, this record belongs to Eddie, just like the band's very name does. There was nothing, nothing like his furious flurry of notes on his solos, showcased on "Eruption," a startling fanfare for his gifts. He makes sounds that were unimagined before this album, and they still sound nearly inconceivable. But, at least at this point, these songs were never vehicles for Van Halen's playing; they were true blue, bone-crunching rockers, not just great riffs but full-fledged anthems, like "Jamie's Cryin'," "Atomic Punk," and "Ain't Talkin' Bout Love," songs that changed rock & roll and still are monolithic slabs of rock to this day. They still sound vital, surprising, and ultimately fun -- and really revolutionary, because no other band rocked like this before Van Halen, and it's still a giddy thrill to hear them discover a new way to rock on this stellar, seminal debut.

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Van Halen 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Robert_P More than 1 year ago
One of the best debuts of all-time. Tons of energy, fun songs, sing/shout along choruses and guitar work that revolutionized the instrument. Come for the massive radio hits ("Running with the Devil", "You Really Got Me", "Ain't Talking Bout Love") and stay for the jaw-dropping, electric deep cuts ("I'm the One", "On Fire", "Atomic Punk")
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
1978, when VH first made their self-titled album, eruption, i think on this album was probably one of the most influential %#!@in' solos ever made. I mean come on man, a f***** minute forty two, hammer on hammer off tapping, two handed finger tapping, this song was the reason that made me start playing the f***** guitar. And start my own band. EVH is my mother f***** hero.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album is AMAZING. With tracks like: Eruption, Runnin' With The Devil, You Really Got Me, and Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love, HOW CAN THIS ALBUM BE BAD? I really like "Ice Cream Man", its transition from acoustic to electric guitar is really cool. Eddie Van Halen's talent on the guitar really shows on this album. If you really like hard rock guitar then you must buy this album, as my old guitar teacher would say: "You can't go wrong with Eddie Van Halen".
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have to tell you that this is one of my favorite albums ever. Every song on this album is excellent. Erupton with a frantic, fast-paced, two handed-tapping mayhem guitar solo. Ain't Talkin' Bout Love's excellent guitar riff. On Fire's crazy screaming and nice rythmic beat. Ice Cream Man's excellent transitioning from acoustic (David Lee Roth) to the elictrifying electric guitar (Eddie) and the solo. Runnin' with the Devil's excellent chorus, guitar riffs, and background screaming. Jamies Cryin' fun to listen to song (hard to explain this one). Little Dreamers good guitar riff and chorus and alot of other things that makes this album awesome. Eddie Van Halen is one of my rock guitar idols. So far I have learned how to play every single song that involved Van Halen. all and all, if you are a Van Halen fan like me this should be your number 1 choice. Also look out for me, I have formed my band called Black Pheonix and my group is going to bring an onsluaght of old-school rock 'n roll. Featuring me: lead guitars, keyborads Kenny Louis: bass, vocals John Daichi Todokoro: drums. Our group is going to be similar to Rush, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and definetly Van Halen.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album probably re-defined guitar playing forever. Eddie took some of Jimmy Page/Tony Iommi and took it to another level. Eruption started a new era in guitar. Probably the best hard rock album in the late 70's, when Van Halen was at its peak. Too bad it was a time bomb fueled by an ego-maniac singer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album is awesome from start to finish, and it features the hits &quot Runnin' With The Devil&quot , a cover of The Kinks' &quot You Really Got Me&quot , &quot Jamie's Cryin'&quot , and &quot Eruption&quot , which is definately for the guitar enthusiasts to learn, and for keyboardists too, because not only you could do the piano, but you can use the guitar sound on the electric keyboards too. This album is way before Wolfgang Van Halen's birth, whom he would replace Michael Anthony on bass, who in fact was the founding bassist, but features the debut of David Lee Roth who would help launch one of the greatest bands, who would one day be, Rock and Roll Hall of Famers.
AudiophileBrian More than 1 year ago
What a shame. This is one of the releases from the 70s that deserves a top notch remastering job and pressing. It got neither from Warner and Kevin Grey. I compared my 30+ year old original vinyl to this supposedly better 180 gram pressing and I could not have been more dissappointed. Roth's vocals all but dissappeared on the reissue. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g is muddy. Low end has no punch or definition, mids are a jumbled mess and the high end has no air or detail whatsoever. Granted these original master tapes are over 30 years old so I would imagine only so much information can be derived from them but come on, this job isn't even close to being good. If you can find a copy of the original vinyl pressing.....grab it. I'm keeping my original and giving it a good disc doctor treatment. I'm givig this reissue soon as I can.
dauschielover More than 1 year ago
If you don't have this CD, you've got to get it. It's more like a "best of" than a debut. All the songs are hits. I first heard Van Halen in the 70s with "You Really Got Me" and have been a fan ever since (and that was when I was in middle school-really!) David Lee Roth is the ultimate VH lead man. This CD is the best.
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